I gave the two youngest boys haircuts, and my husband and I cut his hair.

I wrapped presents in the reusable gift boxes I bought several years ago and tied them shut with ribbons that I bought years back.

I mended the lining of a hand-me-down jacket that all of my daughters have worn (and that was a hand-me-down to start with, given to my eldest daughter).

I resisted the urge to buy last-minute gifts that were not in my budget.

What did you do to save money last week?

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  1. Hope everyone (who celebrates) had a Merry Christmas 🎄
    *read more library books for entertainment
    *gratefully accepted free ticket for drive through light display posted by someone in neighborhood facebook group
    *have used up a lot of leftovers and freezer food the past month when I worked full time
    *gratefully accepted leftovers from Christmas get togethers
    *made a huge batch of winter repair hand cream for Christmas gifts plus our home
    *invested in a heated blanket to stay warm during the huge cold snap we had. The blanket plus space heaters really helped us keep warm without raising the thermostat!
    📍Grocery Store: 99 cent pineapples, marked down roasts and ham
    📍Buy Nothing Group: 2 containers of truvia

    Have a great week!

  2. We were hit with frigid temps mid week. School/work was canceled on Thursday (our last day for vacation anyways), so we stayed home until Saturday (when I went to pick up my mother in law for the holiday).

    Hubby hung up a couple heavy moving blankets in two of our drafty areas.

    I found a sweater for the little dog for $3. it was a little tight so I undid a couple seams on the front legs, and restitched to fit him better.

    I made a cake for a potluck at work. All I needed to buy were cranberries. I brought leftovers home.

    Received practical gifts from my Secret Santa (notebooks, pens, and snacks, plus a great smelling candle). My supervisor gave out handsoap with a towel, another co worker a calendar and ornament.

    I brought home cookies, chocolate covered peanuts and pretzels my coworkers brought for the potluck, but didn’t want to take with them.

    Got a .50 double cheeseburger from McDonald’s in the app

    Kept Christmas meal simple. Hubby wanted a prime rib, so we made that, baked sweet potatoes, and rolls. I only made fudge, peppermint bark, and rolo/pretzel things.

    Kept the gifts pretty simple…the teen got art supplies, a purse, perfume, crocs, a new Nintendo switch case, and some kitchen stuff she wanted. She has a birthday next week, so she’ll receive a few more gifts then. The boy I got an electric blanket, thermos, stainless water bottle(we recently ditched purchasing water bottles and I noticed he was the only one without one), some clothes, cologne, and an online gaming card. For my husband, me and the boy went half on airpods for him, then for me, they got the Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit game I’ve wanted for awhile. Since we got my mother in law an air fryer a few weeks ago, I got her an air fryer cookbook to try new stuff in it.

  3. So glad to see a post today but would have understood completely if you wanted to take the day off, Brandy. 🙂
    *My husband’s birthday was last week and on the busiest day with youth group and bell choir practice. He didn’t want us to miss those events so we adjusted our celebrations. We made several hors d’oeuvres that he loves and ate them as a late lunch/early supper and then had ice cream sundaes when everyone returned home. It worked out well, used ingredients I already had (minus the ice cream) and allowed everyone to attend commitments. We also watched a movie an just enjoyed a nice time together in front of the wood stove. My husband always requests no gifts so special foods he loves but we don’t often have suit him just fine.
    *We passed out cookies to neighbors (again, made with ingredients I have had on hand for at least 2 months and some which I was given by others) and exchanged gifts with some friends (used books, handmade bookmarks, home-baked items.)
    *The winter storm faced by so many here in the US roared in on Friday with high winds, blowing snow and sub-zero temperatures. I wrapped my bee hives with black tar paper (sourced from a neighbor who had an extra roll lying around.) This is common practice in winter in colder climates to serve as a windbreak and the black color is believed to hold heat when the sun is out. We get cold weather here in the mountains but it is still the South so our bees have always been fine with other strategies to insulate and block wind but, when I saw wind chills of -40 forecast, I decided to pull out all the stops. A little effort to keep the bees safe is worthwhile. And I am thankful for neighbors with excess materials piles around their property. We do the same for others and we all benefit.
    *I also insulated our chicken coop with empty feed bags over any possible drafts. Animals need good circulation of air so I didn’t make it comfortable by human standards, just ensured there would be no draft directly on them when on the roosts. Chickens handle much colder temperatures than we humans are comfortable with and they have come through it fine. Some extra feed and checking their water twice a day was a small investment of effort to ensure their safety. They laid several eggs even on the coldest days and we are very grateful.
    *Many churches cancelled their Christmas Eve services due to the weather but our church was open. I found out afterward that some of the congregation were members of other churches whose services had been cancelled. All of the choir members made it though some faced a struggle getting there. Our normally 35 minute drive took 50 minutes. So, the Christmas Eve service seemed extra special this year. The music was well-received and I had so much fun being a part of the bell choir for my first Christmas. The service was followed by a delicious pot-luck feast. Our choir director gave us a lovely gift of chocolate and homemade vanilla-spiced pear butter made from pears from her trees. Food gifts are a favorite in our house!
    *We opened stockings and the few gifts we gave to our children (mostly art supplies and things needed for their dirt bikes as well as food items) and then headed to my in-laws to celebrate with my husband’s family. There, we enjoyed many more thoughtful and practical gifts (they know us so well!) and a true feast that was contributed to by all. Our traditional gifts of a photo calendar of our boys for the grandparents, photo magnets for the aunts/uncles and handmade candles and food items for everyone else were well-received. My husband also gave his Dad a tape measure that has a black background with yellow numbers – much easier for older eyes to see than the traditional reversed colors. We all appreciate practical gifts. One I received was a gift card to the grocery store. Always useful but even more so this year.
    *We spent the night at my in-laws as we had arranged for all the animals to have all they needed to last one night without us. On the way home today, we stopped for a sandwich as a treat. We had B1G1 free coupons so, by ordering separately, we got to eat for 50% off. We rarely eat out and this was a fun way to cap off our quick trip out of town.
    *Now, we have the rest of Christmas to enjoy including New Years and Epiphany which we celebrate in many fun and inexpensive ways. Some of you may remember my excitement over finding the vintage nativity figures this summer at a tag sale. I have looked for YEARS for camels and one Wise Man that was missing from my set and found all of them and much more for $8. I have had so much fun setting up our nativity with those new-to-us figures and, even better, watching my boys put out the Wise Men and camels on Christmas Day so they can begin their travels around the house till they arrive at the stable on 6 January. It’s the little things, isn’t it? I know all of you understand and can commiserate. 🙂
    *Many blessings to all of you at Christmas and always!
    *Wishing everyone a beautiful holiday season!

    1. Dawn, my friend’s mom did the same with the camels and wise men. I had never heard of that until I was 30! I think it’s such a neat idea. She told me that their nativity was under the tree minus Baby Jesus. On Christmas morning, the family would walk in a line carrying Jesus, the rest with battery candles and sing Joy to the World. After Jesus was in the manger, they lit up the star on the tree and looked around for the Wise Men. They opened only their one Santa gift and stocking on Christmas morning. They opened their other 3 gifts on Epiphany, wore crowns, etc. Great teaching moments mixed with fun.

      1. Debby – I love your story! Our Mary, Joseph and the donkey travel around the house during Advent making their way to the stable (where other animals have been waiting) on Christmas Eve. We place the Baby Jesus in the manger Christmas morning and put the star on top then begin the travels of the Wise Men and camels. I love that this practice reminds us that Christmas is a season and not just one day. I think it also helped my children to understand the chronology of what happened at a young age. I never expected how much thought they gave it until my youngest, when he was about 7, suggested that we also have the Holy Family make their Flight into Egypt and insisted the Wise Men “go home another way.” They really are listening even when we think they might not be. Thanks for sharing your friend’s tradition. I love hearing such things. Merry Christmas! 🙂

  4. We didn’t turn up the heat during the cold snap. I’m glad it’s beginning to warm up though.
    Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were lovely. We have leftovers for meals and desserts.
    I made holiday treats to give to some neighbors and used Christmas loaf-size boxes that I already had instead of going out and buying cookie boxes or tins.
    I probably won’t have to grocery shop this week but I will buy bread and half and half (for DH’s coffee) when I am out for a dental appointment.
    I hope everyone who had terrible weather stayed safe!

  5. Looks like my postings will be random. Here goes. November:
    • Fall open house at work allowing employees and families to tour our plant so families can see what their mom/dad/grandparents do at work. Over 500 participants. Had hot dogs, cotton candy, popcorn, snow cones, games, and of course candy. Free entertainment, food, and fellowship for 2 days. I am the plant manager so a lot of meet, greet, and children to enjoy.
    • Limited my cotton candy and candy intake during the Fall open house. Refined sugar makes me feel hungover after partaking and makes me crave it like an addict. 😊 Weight, BP, A1C all goes up. It is really hard because I LOVE COTTON CANDY.
    • Boss from corporate visited my location for 2 days. Free lunch and snacks for 1 day and free dinner for 2 nights.
    • Stayed in company-provided, local hotel for those 2 nights since it was early mornings and late nights. Saved on 2 days of gas (340 miles).
    • Restocked my lunch and snacks drawer at work to prevent eating out. (done weekly)
    • Participated in early voting so that I can “be the change” and not miss work.
    • Made a list of items that needs to be replaced/needed to watch for during Black Friday to get the best price. Sticking to the allotted of amount of money that I budgeted AND SPENDING NO MORE THAN THAT.
    • Caulked around windows and doors to prevent drafts.
    • Sprayed for and set off spray bombs for spiders myself. It’s that time of year!
    • Sprayed weed killer around house and driveway.
    • No electric heat/AC on.
    • Turned off water heater on the way out to work. The tank is so large and well insulated, that I can really go for 48 hours with it off before I need to turn it back on.
    • Bought the cheapest gas in 5 towns.
    • Had to replace my front door because sidelight glass was broken. Ordered online (NOT the cheapest door available I went steel for safety). Delivery was supposed to deliver to my porch. When they arrived the delivery guys refused to deliver to porch because it was too heavy-they put it in the garage. I chatted online with the company about this and got a $159 discount. Believe it or not! Same thing happened with delivery of back door. Ended up getting a total of $318 credit.
    • SIL installed doors at a discount rate. Ran fireplace while there was a hole instead of electric heat. It got down to the teens that morning.
    • Bought limit of 5 bags of 32 oz shred cheese for $5.99
    • Bought 2 containers of blueberries for $0.99
    • Bought 2 bags of 2# navel oranges for $1.99
    • Bought 6# of butter for $2.49.
    • Bought 2 three packs of cookie sheets for $6.49 from Aldi markdown. Was $12.99. Had this on my black Friday list.
    • Refilled 2 mail order prescriptions – free, no co-pay.
    • Started attending yoga. Used to go weekly until husband got sick/covid hit. Been 3 years. Started walking again. Used to walk 5 miles 3x per week. Been 3 years.. Both felt good to focus on me again. My health is important. It also helps me control stress level due to high stress job.
    • Donated to Hospice.
    • Donated to Boy Scouts
    • Plant had Thanksgiving lunch for all shifts. I ate with all 4 shifts.
    • A colleague brought me 10# of potatoes, 6# of sweet potatoes, 6# of carrots, 10# of McIntosh apples, 2 honey dew melons, and 10 pears. Bought dozen eggs from same colleague for $2. I love fresh, unwashed eggs – they don’t have to be refrigerated.
    • I was gifted quart jar of local honey. That sales for $18 around here.
    • Pulled a loaf of bread from the freezer. After it thawed, it was dry and too crusty. I put 2 wet paper towels in the bag and hung it over the fireplace so that it would heat up. Opened it the next day and it was very soft. 😊
    • Cooked Diversity Bean soup and then cooked Tuscan Bean soup with left over Diversity Bean soup. Cooked at home, brought lunch to work, or ate free every meal except 2 this month.
    • Gave my Bassett hound his monthly meds. Gave my cat monthly treatment. Gave the neighbor’s dog his monthly meds.
    • Had annual mammogram. No issues found.
    • Changed furnace filters (2 HVAC systems) to keep running efficiently and keep electric costs down.
    • Got my car’s oil changed, wheels aligned, and transmission fluid changed. It is important that I keep my car in top shape since I drive around 700 miles per week – keeps MPG at a high level.
    • Contacted hospital that treated my husband because there is still an open balance $333,000) from July that says waiting on insurance to pay. When I look online at the insurance web site, there were no claims from the hospital. Hospital said waiting on insurance….. I called insurance 3 days later and the claims had finally been submitted by hospital. Insurance paid 100% – already met out of pocket max.
    • Thought I was finished claiming husband’s 401K, but got more paperwork in the mail to fill out.
    • Life insurance company denied claim for husband. Mishandled by husband’s employer HR department. Appeal filed.
    • Had Thanksgiving at my sister’s family (as always), my children were there as well. Frugal because everyone supplies food. Was great to be with family.
    • Cleaned out and organized my closet so I know exactly what close and shoes I have so that I don’t buy something I don’t need during Black Cyber week. It was tough. I look at something and say, I could wear this…. So I used the rule “if I haven’t worn in 3 years it goes in the donation pile”.
     Dropped donation clothes at Goodwill on way to work so I was not temped to keep and to keep clutter out of the house.
     Took lunch to work everyday, except 4 days which lunch was provided by work.
     I drink 100 oz of water per day. I drink one bottle on the way to work, but the other water I drink while at work is provided by employer.
     Ate all dinners at home. Cooked in crock pot or microwave/convection oven to save energy. Daughter still getting 2 dinners per week through Hello Fresh which is more expensive but cheaper and healthier than eating out. Its also nice to have the variety right now since I don’t have much of an appetite.
     Trying to have no food waste, but not doing so well at it since I am hungry, but loose my appetite after a few bites.
     Turned off water heater during the day. Turned off heat in the house while gone. Use the fireplace for heat when home and have the furnace set to 62 while asleep.
     Finally put a stand up lamp that is adjustable behind the chair I sit in to read. I can now have the ceiling lights off most of the time. Don’t know what took me so long……
     I have stopped buying the cheapest gas I can find. There is one brand of gas that I get the best gas mileage from and have started buying there exclusively. I know at what price other gas has to be to be a better deal, but don’t expect that to ever happen.
     I have been driving a detour to work and home everyday while road construction was taking place, which was causing 5 miles more. The construction finished and new road opened. The new road is 1 mile LESS than the road before the detour. This will save me 12 miles per day from the detour road and 2 miles per day from the old road. Best part is the new road has higher speed limit and is the sweet spot for best gas mileage for my car AND it will save me around 20 minutes per day.
     Mammogram came back clear.
     Received a great quality fleece vest, puffer jacket, winter jacket from work for Christmas. They all layer for levels of warmth.
     Got passport renewal – book and card both. Company paid for it since I am required to travel. They use a special carrying service so that it doesn’t get delayed or lost. Whole thing saved me over $1,000 and got it in about 3 weeks.
     Donated to Toys for Tots – I live in Eastern Kentucky (yep, another Appalachian gal) and the devastation after the flooding still remains. So many kids would not have a Christmas. Plant raised a total of $6,000. I told my teammates that if they hit the $6,000 mark, then I would dress up like and elf and walk around the plant (I am approx.. 6’ tall). I kept my promise.
     Now that I am a widow, everything changes. Total family income, TAX BURDEN AND FILING STATUS, budgets, spending and spending habits. My husband and I put everything on a credit card except for our weekly allowance. I have downloaded all of our charges YTD and started to organize my spending from this year into categories and excluding those that are related to my husband’s spending and his illness. There is so much spending related to his illness that is not medical bills. I am trying to be methodical about setting a budget and spending pattern for next year and the years to come. The first year will definitely be a learning and adjust year. I absolutely have to be careful about documenting the farm expenses for deductions since I will file taxes as single instead of married.
     Followed up with insurance company on a bill from the hospital. Insurance company called hospital and told them to stop billing me because it was covered contractually with insurance company. $250.50 saved.
     Husband’s life insurance finally paid on December 24. Four months after filed. It was a fight, but finally won.
     On PTO from 12/19-1/3 so not much gas used. Ate at home.
     Had to go to a larger local city for a doctor’s appointment. Used it as an opportunity to make a Sam’s Club pick-up order. Stocked up for several months on several items that is cheapest at Sams.
     Electric bill went from $110 in November to $228 in December. Kept electric heat as low as possible at night while sleeping and off during the day and heated with fireplace – even during the frigid weather. Lights off when not needed; full loads in the dishwasher; full loads in washer and dryer. I dread seeing the electric bill in January especially since I have been home on PTO for 19 days.
     Still fighting with husband’s 401K provided. Filed official complaint with the company (Empower) and with his ex-employer’s HR department.
     Gave dogs and cat monthly meds.
     Bagged up all my husband’s clothes to give to my son, but haven’t been able to let go of them yet. Just getting them bagged up was an accomplishment for me.
     Had 2 gift cards that I received free and was expiring in December. Totaling $54. I used these cards buying laundry products on Sam’s Club web site so that I didn’t lose the $54.
     Every time my husband was in the hospital and came home. Everything in the room would be thrown out, so the nurses insisted that we pack everything up and take it home. We have boxes of latex gloves. Daughter uses them when she tie-dies shirts, socks, etc.
     Got a free movie rental from my satellite provider.
     2023 budget finalized. I hope I made good assumptions, but I think it is liberal and may be adjusted when I analyze it in June.
    Going to spend this week helping my sister clean my mom’s apartment out since we put her in a long-term care facility right before Thanksgiving. No other plans for the week between Christmas and New Year. Should be no expense other than gas.
    Wishing everyone a safe and prosperous 2023. I look forward to 2022 ending.

    1. The time you have waited for life insurance to pay and that you are still waiting for the 401K to pay is a good lesson to all of us. Thank you for sharing that.

    2. My goodness, Wendy. I pray you have an easier 2023. You have surely had a rough year. Thank you for sharing about the business aspect of your loss. Many families would really be in dire straits waiting for 4 months for insurance. I hope many take note and see yet another good reason to fill their pantry and emergency account. Peace to you and yours.

    3. Heartfelt condolences-thankful you have a successful career to help you through a difficult time. Very few women rise to the level of Plant Manager. I hope your role and team bring you comfort and purpose during the upcoming year.

    4. Wendy – You have accomplished much while still grieving the loss of your husband. You are amazing as well as inspirational. Thoughts and prayers to you and your family.

  6. I am with you on resisting the urge to buy extra gifts that are not in my budget. I feel the urge every year.

    I bought a pineapple for 97¢, knowing it would be a nice break from all the heavier foods.

    We travelled to our kids but stayed at a friend’s empty house, which involves bringing sleeping bags and a space heater, but it’s free!

    We had our gift exchange within our family-one gift of $25. It was enjoyed by all-both in the shopping and in the receiving!

    I’m looking forward this week to writing my budget, making some financial goals and plans and generally feeling like things are in order for the new year.

  7. I posted a few weeks ago about my husband’s blindsiding decision to abandon me after nearly 30 years of marriage. I so appreciate the comments and suggestions posted in response. I wanted to write a follow up.
    We met with a mediator. This was 33 days after the Bomb Drop and I had not seen my husband since. He communicates very little and only about logistics, such as money. It is truly as if he completely turned off his feelings for me. I have since learned this is called Wife Abandonment Syndrome. It’s an actual thing. It was very helpful to read about online.
    The mediator was very nice, although does not take sides, and his goal is “fairness”. He complimented us on being able to be in the same room with each other to try to work things out. I never once looked at my husband – just looked straight ahead at the moderator. I was prepared for the meeting, and my husband was not. He hadn’t filled out all his paperwork, and couldn’t answer basic financial questions. He apologized to the mediator at one point for not knowing anything, saying I had always handled everything. The mediator, in turn, was VERY complimentary on me and my handling of the finances for the last 30 years. (ie, no debt, and some retirement). He even turned to my husband at one point and said “You should count your blessings she was so good at this.” OH I wanted to hug him. I was just beaming. It was the shot in the arm I so desperately needed and it helped me maintain my composure for the rest of the meeting.
    I took the advice of many of you however and did meet with a family law attorney last week. He has offered to go over my ‘proposal’ of a fair settlement and ensure I am getting what is needed. The mediator had suggested I could live off my half of the savings if I couldn’t make ends meet, an idea I did not like at all, but this other lawyer said there is case law precedent in our state that I should not have to do that. He is going to research this for me. I should be entitled to have sufficient income to live without spending down assets. In addition, although our daughter is 18 she is still for all intents and purposes a dependent, in college, and will live with me on breaks from school. I shouldn’t have to have all her expenses be my responsibility. So that is where we figure out a monthly, or lump sum, maintenance (alimony) payment.
    I’ll update later. We meet again with the mediator next week. This was the saddest Christmas I have ever spent, even with my parents and daughter, good food, presents, and I’ll see other family later in the week. It’ll get better, but boy was this hard. 31 Christmases with a person, and suddenly they just want out, and I’ll probably never really understand why. It’s absolutely bewildering, devastating, and terrifying.
    Thank you everyone.

    1. Mary, my heart goes out to you. It sounds like you are making the best of a terrible situation. I’m glad you consulted a lawyer and hope you can work out a good settlement. I will be praying for you.

    2. Mary, I can see why this Christmas was the hardest one ever for you. I admire your efforts to keep moving forward despite your heartache. I don’t know you, but I will pray for you, friend.

    3. Mary thank you so much for sharing your update. Truly numbing to go thru anytime of year but especially now. So happy to hear that support from people here helped you alittle bit and you are working with a lawyer looking out for your best interests- someone has to during these emotional times. Best wishes as you make your journey through.

    4. Prays for you. I cannot imagine the heartaches you are going through. I am SO glad you met with an attorney to safeguard your future.

    5. Mary,
      Just put one foot in front of the other. Do the next thing. Things will get better over time. Keep shining your light! I know that your husband’s actions are so devastating. Keep doing you!

    6. Mary,
      I’m so sorry you are having to go through this ordeal. One note; when my parents divorced after 45 years of marriage, my father was instructed to take out a life insurance policy on my mom to pay for funeral expenses in case she passed before he did. When she did pass away first, we found out that he not only didn’t keep the policy up, but he never took one out to begin with. Absent in the divorce decree was accountability, i. e. sending documented proof to her attorney each year that he had paid. Please consider this as one of the requirements of your divorce settlement, but with the accountability clause. Best wishes.

    7. Mary, I am so sorry you have to go through this. It is very much like a death and the grieving process is much the same. Since there are so many emotions involved, it was wise of you to hire someone to make sure you get what you need out of this. I will be praying as well.

    8. Mary, thank you so much for updating us here. I have been thinking about you a lot. I am glad to hear you were prepared and composed at the meeting. I am also glad to hear you are consulting with an attorney. Please know that you regardless of what happens, you WILL come out stronger on the other side, and there ARE better times ahead. I know it is difficult now (believe me, I know!), but day by day, it will get better. You deserve so much better than the way he has treated you.

  8. Hope everyone had a great week.
    The biggest thing for our family – our first grandchild (a little girl) was born on Tuesday at 10:15 a.m. She is healthy and we are all so happy. My son, the dad, is beaming.
    Best deals I got this week – pineapples – 79¢ each, limit of 4 – went twice and got 8. When they are ripe, I will can them. Also, butter for $1.99 a pound after coupons. Olives 78¢ – got 8, green beans 99¢ a pound. Butter – $2.49 a pound – got 2. Had coupons for free lettuce, eggs, cottage cheese and $4.00 of free produce.
    Made chex mix, almond roca (twice), big batch of applesauce, rosemary/thyme bread. Made a salad with all the free veggies I got, plus some celery, carrots and jicama. Made lasagna for Christmas Eve dinner.
    I cleaned my closet – and so happy I did.
    For Christmas dinner, made a turkey (that I got after Thanksgiving for 29¢ a pound), stuffing (got the stuffing mix for 50¢ a box), roasted potatoes, from the garden, and carrots and celery. Made roasted sweet potatoes, as my DIL is allergic to sweet potatoes. Made green beans with seasonings.
    My son, DIL and new granddaughter were here for Christmas dinner.
    Hope everyone has a wonderful week.

    1. Congratulations on your first grandbaby! Mine are the joy of my life, and we were able to spend over a week with them before Christmas; they live far from us. What joy!

  9. I hope everyone here (that celebrates) had a wonderful Christmas. Brandy, our decorated gift boxes are my favorite thing when it comes time to wrap Christmas gifts! We bought a huge set of decorated shirt and lingerie boxes that fold flat when they were on sale at Kmart for 75% off. Before anybody opens one, I remind them to be careful so we can use it next year! Between those boxes, which we’ve had for 7-8 years, and reused gift bags, I hardly ever have to actually wrap a Christmas present. Big rolls of curling ribbon and stick-on bows are the rest of the wrapping arsenal. A bag of bows from Dollar Tree was the only wrapping or decoration I bought this year.

    The winter storm that hit most of the US hit here first (northern Idaho). Christmas Day was our first break from the snow and bitter cold temperatures of the last week. We have had snow on the ground–about 2 feet at the moment–for 6 weeks and counting. We get snow and cold weather every winter, but nothing like this!

    We had planned to go to my son’s the week before Christmas and return on the 23rd. They live 525 miles from here in the mountains. My daughter got sick the day we were to leave and was diagnosed with influenza-A. She was given Tamiflu to shorten the duration and it worked for her. Getting to my son and daughter-in-law’s would have been OK, but getting home would not. I’m sorry that my daughter got sick and we had to cancel, but not at all sorry that we missed the drive home through Idaho and Montana on the coldest days of “the bomb.”

    Our friends invited us to dinner on Christmas Day. I offered to bring dessert (see below). I don’t usually cook a huge dinner on Christmas Eve, but in light of everything else, I decided to go all out (in an easy way!) for just us. I made a ham with apricot glaze, frozen fruit salad, twice-baked potatoes, rolls and apple pie. I made this cheap by using food I had in the freezer and pantry and only had to buy whipping cream, maraschino cherries, apricot jam and green onions. I made this easy by using frozen roll dough and a frozen pie and making the frozen salad a day ahead. And I made this even easier because this fruit salad doubles as dessert. And that’s what I took to our friends’ house for dessert!

    I also planned for the leftovers. I cut all of the ham off the bone and I will freeze whatever we don’t eat right away. I made ham stock in the Crock Pot overnight and picked the bones (one of my least favorite tasks). The recipe for twice-baked potatoes makes 12 servings (1/2 potato each) and I’ve already frozen the 9 that were left from dinner. Plus, I didn’t have to make dessert for Christmas!

    This has been a truly difficult year for illness at our house. THE WHOLE YEAR, and the flu has been the least of it. We used to go out to eat 3-4 times a month (mostly for entertainment). I don’t think we have done this 10 times this year, and not a lot during the pandemic. I don’t buy takeout because when I spend the money for restaurant food, I want to be served and have somebody else clean up. Thus, I have done a LOT of cooking in 2022, and a lot more freezing for future meals. I’m actually pleased by how this has worked out.

    I didn’t make any gifts this year and I stayed close to budget for the ones I bought. For the past few years, I have tried to make a gift a month (usually succeeded doing 6-8) and one of my New Year’s resolutions is to start this again in 2023. I never made gifts before reading this blog and now it’s one of my favorite things. People have always liked them, too…especially the heated rice bags.

    Our daughter is feeling much better after a course of Tamiflu. We are currently planning to go to our son and daughter-in-law’s next weekend for New Year’s and let THEM cook the big meal. We will also open presents together, although our daughter opened a few non-family gifts Christmas morning.

    Happy New Year to everyone here!

  10. When I was down to the wire with the last gifts to wrap, I was so thankful to have reusable gift boxes and ribbons I’ve saved. It sure made things easier on me, and they looked beautiful. Thank you for sharing about them previous years. Last week, we harvested cabbage for colcannon, lettuce and chard, and thyme for tea. I received a “free” toothbrush and two samples of ozone gel at a dental cleaning. My husband and I watched the Bocelli Christmas special, free on YouTube (thanks for the one who mentioned it here); free Pandora holiday stations and the holiday stream on Folk Alley provided cheer. I stopped at Hallmark after an appointment, and got $9 off my purchase, using coupons, and received a free card. At Harris Teeter, I received the 5% senior discount, and picked up brussels sprouts for $2.99/#. Not a great price, but better than the $3.99 I’d been seeing elsewhere. I also got a large organic cucumber for $1.79, and canned organic beans on sale for $1 off/ 4 pk. At Food Lion, I got three bunches of asparagus for $1.49/#, and froze two. Also purchased was honey on sale, and .99 avocados. My husband read there’s a bumper crop of avocados, so hopefully the price will go down further. I went by a favorite thrift store. The sign said Christmas items were 1/2 off, but at the register I realized they were giving everyone half off, which was a nice surprise. I bought a small gift for my husband, and two items for my online shop. Vegetable soup was made, with several of our vegetables, and also used some of our dehydrated greens and soup mix (onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms). We deeply harvested the winter garden before the single digit temps, and covered everything as well as possible. None of it may make it, but we wanted to try. We harvested many lbs. of of collards, more than a large black trash bag full, and blanched and froze 16 qts. Also harvested was 5 oz of chard, equivalent to a regular clamshell of salad, 13 oz. of lettuce, around 2# of kale, some of which was frozen, a small amount of broccoli, and a few lbs. of mixed winter greens. We did our best to not waste anything, and hope to be harvesting something on the other side of this frigid snap. Three friends who often take our produce were out of town, and another didn’t want any. I went through Rakuten with 10% back, for a business purchase. On Christmas day, I made a sweet potato, apple, cranberry bake with walnuts, and a cranberry quinoa salad with kale and walnuts. I also roasted asparagus and made cookies. The tree was decorated the latest ever, only two days before Christmas, but we’ll enjoy it for some time, before taking it down. Wishing everyone a peaceful end of 2022. http://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2022/12/winter-harvest.html

  11. We had a lovely Christmas holiday at home. Christmas Eve we host brunch for our neighbors. It is always so much fun and I keep it simple, making most dishes beforehand. This year I baked a ham and it was a hit. I always bake a ham for our Christmas dinner. There is so much meat on a ham there was plenty for the party and for our Christmas dinner and beyond. * We bought groceries on the 22nd, combining errands with our anniversary dinner. I did pick up orders at every store we shopped at, which made shopping easy and low-stress. We chose a very nice steakhouse for our dinner, but I had a coupon and used it. My husband laughed when I pulled it out, but then we reminisced about early in our marriage, when he was laid off. He went back to school at night and worked manual labor during the day. Once a week I would meet him after he got off work and before he started night classes and we would go out to eat, using a different Buy one dinner, get one free coupon. * By shopping sales, I kept to our budget for groceries. The natural foods store here still has eggs for $1.99 a dozen, which amazes me considering at the regular grocery store they are $7.99 a dozen and usually sold out! * I opted not to make a dessert for our Christmas dinner, which turned out to be a good decision, since neighbors gifted us with cookies and a pumpkin cheesecake.

  12. We had highs of -26 degree C (-15 F), and lows of -39 C (-38 F) for most of the week, so I stayed home and didn’t do any spending. It started to warm up by Christmas Eve, but I decided to skip buying any extra groceries and go on with what I had. That leaves me with $60 extra in my grocery budget for the coming month. Sometimes there are sales in January, so I may use some of it for pantry items, though I think most will be used for stocking up on meat.

    We received our pension payments a week early, so I paid my bills. Like others, I have been sorting out my budget for 2023. I am sympathetic for those of you trying to get to the right answer. My budget isn’t very precise at the moment. I know categories of out of the ordinary spending I will have, but not the amounts. The main thing for the moment is just to get some money saved so I can pay for things when they become clearer.

    My income is a little better this year, thanks to COLA on pensions, and a little extra help from the provincial government for the first half of the year. Some provinces have given out lump sums. In Alberta seniors and children are getting $100 a month for six months to make things more affordable. It feels like an allowance! I hope to cover inflation with the COLA, and not spend my “allowance”, but time will tell.

    We continue to get a temporary rebate on electricity ($50 a month). When they started the rebate in the summer, both the electricity and energy bills bumped up their flat delivery charges by a total of $45, so it is hard to see this as very helpful. I save the most by having followed Ellie’s friend’s advice to get a flat rate contract at 7.59 cents/kWh for 5 years. The rate has just been temporarily capped at 13.5 cents/kWh. (The average in 2022 was 15.55. I believe the current rate is over 20 cents. In 2020 we paid 6.80.) I also save a lot by keeping my use low. I was never a big user, but my use has been lower in 10 out of the last 12 months, by about 10%.

    Natural gas, which I use for heating but nothing else, is more difficult to track. It is going up, but there is plenty of margin in my budget to cover it so far. This expense is really limited to the winter months.

    I am trying to come up with a plan for keeping groceries stocked for the year. I have much more food in the house this year than I did at the same time last year. I usually start stocking up for winter in July or August, but this year started in April, so that has clearly helped a lot. I am not sure whether it will be best to set stocking-up money aside from now to April, or to make purchases. I’d be interested in what groceries Brandy and my fellow readers are able to stock up on early in the year.

    Other than that, I have been shoveling snow, taking naps and reading. Shoveling snow, done a little at a time, gets my endorphins going, which leaves me feeling well. Taking naps is fun too. Next week, I’ll start working on projects again.

    1. The only stocking up I am looking to do is pasta, if there is a sale. There hasn’t been one since February, I believe, and I am very low on pasta.

      Other than that, I will be eating from storage and doing very little shopping. I might buy some sour cream or margarine but right now I need to eat from what we have.

    2. Elizabeth M.

      I’m glad you were able to tie in your electricity rate at a good rate. You probably already know this but some suppliers of natural gas charge an administration charge of 99 eents per gigajoule on a floating contract. On a fixed contact this charge disappears. Regardless of the gigajoule rate (fixed vs floating), the removal of this administration charge is a substantial savings. The best of all plans, it seems, is to have a fixed rate, earn points (for example, EasyMax Rewards) tie into a fixed rate but one that can easily be exited without penalty with 30 days’ notice (Enmax has a plan like this). Happy New Year.

      1. My natural gas is billed through my village utilities, and unfortunately we are limited to a floating rate. In the past, this has always resulted in lower than normal rates, because they negotiated a bulk rate, but I can’t tell any more and have no control over it, other than using less. My house is warm, though, so I won’t complain.

  13. I spent a quiet Christmas Day at home. A penpal in Germany emailed her videos of the Andrea Bocelli concert in July 2022 in rural Italy (Teatro del Silenzio). It was great to watch this although I could (for technical reasons) only watch it yesterday. She also has an extra copy of Bocelli’s new Christmas cd which she will send me as a gift. I have usually bought Bocelli’s cds but this year did not. I watched the new season of Call the Midwife. One of my ladies’ club scholarship recipients was stuck in northern Alberta as her flights to Vancouver were cancelled so I arranged a mid afternoon Christmas zoom with her and one other friend. I don’t subscribe to Zoom so just had the free 40 minute limit version. I baked a very small roast beef that I bought on sale and had it with baked potatoes (10 pounds for $4.44, a very good price here) and butternut squash (69 cents per pound, previously, but now $1.98 per pound). An old friend from high school phoned me just after dinner on Christmas Day and I had a great, long chat with her.
    Today, our Boxing Day, I went outside and shovelled the rest of the driveway. As the snow was dry and light, I did not have to hire anybody. Not a perfect job, but “good enough”. I fed the birds and then watched them – it was great fun as several birds arrived. I looked for a good boxing day sale for a portable induction cooktop – I want to get one with an automatic shutoff timer so I don’t have to worry. I will watch the Christmas Eve service on YouTube from my church. Yesterday, I also watched King Charles III’s Christmas message and watched the royal family members going to and from church in Sandringham. free entertainment on YouTube and CBC gem.

  14. Happy holidays to everyone! We had a lovely low key Christmas with a son and DIL arriving on the 24th and leaving mid day on the 26th. She and I planned our menus in advance and split the dishes so they brought a bunch with them. Our wine and cookies were from a fundraiser I attended so had good feelings attached.
    My husband and I don’t exchange gifts and have recently had had many things to fix in our car and home (car struts and tires replaced, major plumbing work on shower and resulting hole in wall to fix, leaking toilet, replacing dishwasher) plus still need a new kitchen faucet and something is wrong with the garage door opener. We did stocking gifts for the over 50 year old “kids” and a stocking for our 10 month old puppy which he was quite entertainingly excited about. We let Amazon deliver our other son’s families gifts again purchased from their lists. It helps that we ask what the kids want or need before shopping and they do the same but a surprise snuck into each stocking. A fun weekend with lots of dog walks and play as we live in S California. Our other son and his family are coming to visit for New Year’s and the Rose Parade but staying at the local ones home. We will drive over to visit New Year’s Day.
    I’ve started a list of small home items and clothing that need replacing and will be carefully shopping for those and adding to the list as I go through and clean each part of our home over the next few months.
    I was excited to see our most recent electric bill was a few dollars less than a year ago despite price increase. Our food bill has increased but not terribly and other utilities are include in our HOA so we can’t really impact them.

  15. Also, I am watching the Princess of Wales “Together at Christmas” carol service from Westminster Abbey. see youtube
    “Royal Carols: Together at Christmas 2022”. beautiful service.

  16. I really love your photos, Brandy! These seem slightly different in style than some if your others, but just as strikingly gorgeous!

    My frugal week:

    – I made a sweet potato pie for Christmas, using my favourite pie crust (http://approachingfood.com/preservative-free-vodka-pie-crust/) and some very inexpensive sweet potatoes I had bought weeks ago, and powdered milk instead of evaporated or fresh. Everyone loved it!
    – I made a batch of caramel corn as a last minute gift for a school bus driver, using items in my pantry and wrapping I had in my supplies. No extra OOP cost!
    – I redeemed $10 in loyalty points for groceries.
    – I bought a produce box for $5 from the flashfoid app. I turned the eggplant into eggplant parm using homemade breadcrumbs, cut some coloured peppers for veggie sticks, and froze the remaining peppers and eggplant for stir-frys or fajitas.
    – I got a free large container of high end yogurt using an offer from the No Frills holiday online game.
    – I got some free Starbucks loyalty points playing their free online holiday game.
    – I baked a batch of carrot muffins using flax eggs as I was out of eggs. I replaced half the oil with veggie puree. My daughters love these in mini muffin form, especially for school snacks.
    – My daughters and I made new crayons from broken old crayons, using my mini donut mold. They were delighted!
    – I took my daughters to lots of free library programs, including the Christmas eve story and song time. We stopped for a sweet treat after, that used up the last of gift card and some loose change.
    – I used saved gift bags to wrap gifts and saved ones from gifts received.
    – I made cranberry pecan muffins for Christmas breakfast, using cranberries I had bought on sale. Inexpensive because I happened to already have pecans at home, but special enough, and leftovers were frozen.
    – I saved gift bags, and reused some from previous years.
    – my mom and I swapped coupons, as we each keep an eye out for coupons for items we know the other buys.
    – I borrowed many e-books from the library.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else as usual!

    1. Margaret, we are well past the crayon stage, but had a large bin of them. My husband removed all the wrappers and he melts them to drizzle over fire starters he makes from toilet paper rolls and dryer lint. No waste for us older folks.

  17. I also resisted the urge to buy more gifts! I was very close to buying each grandchild a gift to go with the scarves I crocheted them (in their favorite colors), thinking that the scarf wasn’t quite enough. But I resisted, and all the scarves were very much appreciated. I don’t think a shortage was felt, and I saved the cost of 9 more gifts.
    We also cut my husband’s hair, and I wore clothes I already had in my closet for holiday events, adding just a pair of new earrings.
    Before next Xmas I’m going to sew up some gift bags that we can reuse each year.
    Thanks for all the inspiration everyone! Have a lovely new year!

  18. Been MIA for a few weeks. Finally had fully recovered from COVID; went to Charleston for my great Aunt’s 99th birthday and came down with the Respiratory Virus that is rampant. Been a challenging holiday season!

    Snowed here all day today and with low temps not sure if my two children will be able to leave to go back to their homes tomorrow! Bonus for us! It’s been wonderful having them here.

    During the past week’s frigid temperatures our pipes froze and we had rolling 15 minute black outs for several days. Made cooking somewhat challenging, but was very grateful not to totally lose power and to have heat! I am dreading the next power bill!

    Did not find any good buys food wise before Christmas. Had hoped to go out today and take advantage of markdowns, but was unable to due to the snow.

    Am very proud of our zero waste attempts during the holidays. We have been quite successful. Hope we can keep it up.

    Made fudge and pralines for Christmas! Terrible for our health; great for our morale. We watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Christmas Eve for the 29th year in a row. Such a wonderful film. The kids said that they could recite it by heart! Traditions!

    Looking forward to the New Year in hopes it will be better in all ways. This past year was truly grueling! Hope everyone got their Christmas wishes and are healthy, safe and sound. Stay frosty out there! Onward, ya’ll, by all means!

  19. Merry Christmas, Brandy, and everyone!

    We had a busy week keeping my nephew, grandson, and niece busy at various times during the last week. I planned out many simple, inexpensive, but fun activities for them. We also had a weather event that kept the boys busy one day, with no planning on my part! I put pictures of what we did on my blog: http://beckyathome.com. They were simple activities such as going to the library, crafts, cooking, etc. The cost was minimal, but everyone seemed to have fun. Since I was going to have kids around for so many hours, I wanted a good plan. I was happy with how it worked out.

    I did grocery shopping using digital coupons and my rewards on my Safeway app. There was a $10 off coupon I used, which helped. Butter was $3/box at Fred Meyers. It has (sadly) not reached the $2 mark for months and months around here, so I got several for that price and popped them in the freezer. I was getting very low, since I had been holding out for my “old” low price, which never materialized. I had been given a $25 gift card last summer for babysitting the neighbor children and used it up on butter and chocolate chips. What better way to use a gift? :). If it ever does drop back to $2/box, I will gladly get more and freeze them.

    I’ve done a little sewing lately. I sewed a bathrobe a couple of weeks back for one grandson. I got a remnant for less than $2 and sewed some p.j. pants. I bought one of the plain white craft t-shirts for a top and it was less than $3 for that. The last thing I’ve completed was a pair of sleeping shorts for my husband. My sister was given fabric from a friend who was cleaning out. She passed it on with the understanding that I would take what I could use and pass the rest on. I’m not done sorting, but was delighted to find enough blue knit fabric for the shorts.

    We used a 15% off coupon we received in the mail for Territorial seeds and ordered a bunch. We didn’t get all I am going to need, but got what I had time to figure out some of the basics I always order in the short time I had that day to look through the website. It was expiring, and I figured any for a discount would be better than missing out altogether. (I took postage into account and still came out ahead.). Yesterday, I was delighted to get a Territorial gift card for Christmas from one sister. Our garden is huge and we rely on the produce all year long. I order a lot of seeds and my husband has been experimenting in saving seeds the past 3-4 years. It’s been mostly successful, but I really don’t think one of the tomato varieties he saved was quite right last summer, even though they were open-pollinated seeds, so we got a fresh packet of those. Things can cross in a garden our size no matter how careful we try to be. I use some hybrid seeds at times, with no intention of saving seeds from them, but we do only purposefully save the open-pollinated varieties. I do need a huge yield of tomatoes every year, so get disease-resistant varieties, which are often hybrids, ever since the year I lost all my bushes to a blight. I will get the rest of what I need once I have time to really get in there and sort what’s left in my stash from last year and make a good plan.

    Almost every day, I open a jar and, many times, I open several in a day, or pull produce from the freezer. I’m so grateful to have all this food at my fingertips. It leaves me so much more of my grocery budget to spend on meat, paper products, dairy, produce in the winter, and of course, chocolate chips and butter:) Having all this food enables me to be generous and make meals for people, something I enjoy very much. I also had canned some items as gifts and gave those out on Christmas. So, I do not grudge the money spent on seeds one bit!

    1. I also stocked up on seeds with holiday sales! Do you have a favorite way to store and organize your seed packets? I’m in need of a new system (currently grouping like types together with a rubber band and tossing the groups all in a box).

      1. I also would like some inspiration on organizing my seed packets. So far I have two cute boxes I got at Joann’s or Michael;s years ago that have a lids, like photo boxes, but larger. One says garden the other says herbs – too cute. I used some index cards and printed out labels to put on the index cards for each vegetable and made a mini file cabinet in the box, with the index cards as dividers. My seed packets are actually taller than the box, but if they have enough room to sort of lay down they do fit. It will work till I get a better idea.

        I don’t know how set up an excell spread sheet, but hubby does it for me and I can fill in the blanks. I have every seed by name and variety, date on back of package, seed viability date, harvest date, a column for if it is an open seed packet. It’s very useful to refer to the chart for ordering seeds. I update it in the fall and when I buy new seeds.

  20. My husband and I went to the store today and only bought a bit of cheese and green onion. Eggs were 5.99 a dozen. I am glad I have chickens. Although feed has gone up as well. I saw a honey dew for 6.99! Everything was so expensive! I’m glad we have food. But I know we will have to buy sometime. We are able to pay our bills so far. My mom is coming over to help me make. curtains this week. We were going to do it last week, but something came up. I will also teach my great-nephews piano. I am crocheting a scarf with some yarn I bought for a dollar. It is a color my son likes and will be a gift for him. I watched YouTube to learn how to crochet. I am really enjoying the new skills I am learning on Youtube and from my mom! I sewed a hole in a shirt and repaired my husbands jeans. I know that it may not seem like much to people who are great seamstresses. But, it was a big deal to me to be able to use my sewing machine all by myself to repair the shirt. I am really enjoying it and my husband is so proud of me! It makes me happy! I have so many projects in mind! Including lots of repairs. We cooked all but one day. We shared a meal and an appetizer at a restaurant. We were immediately regretful. My husband told me that I cook better. And really, I felt the same way about it. It was an expense that I did not like. I am going to have to pack snacks when we run to town for errands again to hold us over until I can cook at home. Other than that we stayed home. It was really cold in the negatives here and even colder wind chill. I wore a blanket around me and on my lap. Plus sweaters and a blouse and wool socks and jeans. and my shoes and a scarf. At one point I put the blanket on my head fo ra bit. We could really feel the wind. We put a towel by the wall where a sit because you could feel the wind come in. The rolled up towel helped. My husband bought some foam to fill the cracks between the wall and the floor. We eventually will put down a border around the floor. I forgot what you call it. My son said we should calk before we put it down. We live in a little metal building. I found out that the locals call it the shed house. Originally we were going to make it a store. But we ended up making it a home. It is usually cozy inside. Today is better. It is still below freezing outside, but not as windy out there. I am glad we don’t have to heat a large house like we had talked about building before. I’m hoping we can get propane. We have called twice. The first time was over two weeks ago. We heat our home and cook with propane. They must be swamped and there was the holiday. I just don’t want it to get too low. Usually they come out right away. Of course, it is a new larger company now. I miss going down to the local place and letting them know and they would be right out as soon as they could get there. Of course, I don’t thing we ever bought it at this time of year. They could very well be busier. Tomorrow, I hope to plan the weeks meals and take a look at what seeds we have for a garden this year and see what we need to purchase, if anything. I’d like to use what we have.

    1. This time of year, you may want to consider frozen and canned fruits. Honeydew is a summer fruit, and so it will have been imported from a warmer place–and also won’t be as tasty.

      Citrus are going to be expensive for years to come because of hurricane damage; normally those are a good in-season price now. Apples would be your next best bet.

      1. That is a good idea Brandy. We didn’t buy the honeydew. We have some apples and oranges from a recent sale. But I will have to look at frozen and canned. I have also considered trying to grow lettuce in a pot indoors. Lettuce was 5.99. I didn’t buy that either. Today we had split pea soup. It was Yummy! And is low cost fiber and protein. We just threw a bit of ham and carrots, celery and onion in. I look forward to summer, cheaper prices, and the ability to grow things again.

  21. -I made another batch of applesauce with free apples. Made cranberry muffins and zucchini muffins and sourdough bread, including some for friends. Made muffins for a potluck. Made a ham I bought on sale for Christmas Eve, and splurged on steaks from my favorite butcher for Christmas. Kept it simple with mashed potatoes, roast veggies and a frozen pie (from a fundraiser).
    -My husband was eyeing some posters on Amazon, even though we vowed to have an Amazon free Christmas. I was able to buy the prints on Etsy, have them printed locally (and they gave me extra discounts) and frames from Meijer (half off). They turned out beautifully and while not cheap, still saved a few hundred dollars. I found some items for myself on eBay. Family mostly got the kids practical items like lotion and snacks, which is much appreciated. I purchased one new toy and got lots of hand me downs/second hand toys. Also traded puzzles with some friends.
    -Planning on hitting stores Christmas clearance for things like slippers and board games.

  22. Tammy,
    Do you have any space heaters? I don’t use any but it might be a good backup in case of emergency regarding the propane. If you get one, make sure you get a kind that automatically shuts off if it falls over. Congrats on learning how to use the sewing machine. Best wishes for a happy, healthy New Year.

    1. Ann, We might need to do that. I have one small electric space heater. I used it on some of the very, very cold days because my feet were so cold even with socks and shoes on. It really helped. I mentioned it to my husband. I think it is a good idea. He said it would be very expensive to run them all the time. But we might do that as a back-up. I have been having so much fun sewing! I hope you have a great Happy and Healthy New Year too!

      1. I am thinking of it as an emergency back up if your propane doesn’t arrive soon. Happy healthy and warm new year.

  23. I have a week of Holidaying still ahead of me. I am supplying the housing and transportation. Every one else is supplying the buffets. My concern right now is eating too much for another week. There is an incredible amount of food with group gatherings of up to 50 people. My weight is as high as it has been in 20 years. I don’t want to get further up the scale because at my age it is so hard to lose. I came up with a plan for the next seven days. I had invested a year ago in a a boxed intermittent fast program that wasn’t the right approach – dried soups, cracker and bars. The crackers have gone bad. So I packed up my Vita mixer, dried berries, nut protein powder, the bars, the dried soups and some aging dark choc. bits. I will pre-eat for the parties. I am allowed to supplement with any fruits, veggies or legumes at the buffet. That will allow me to be socially eating. The Vitamix is a miracle worker. Just add water and it cooks and blends that soup with a push of a button. I can reconstitute the dried berries to make a smoothie with ice. This means I can use it at the hotels. It is all food I already have and it will get keep me sane through the week. Hotels are booked through my travel credit cards.

    I am not a comfortable cook. This makes it tempting to spend more on prepared food that is not as healthy. This week I have combined all the recipes that work for me. I had recipes in a box, a binder, books with binder notes , computer bookmarks, and phone photos. Sheesh! I decided to redo the recipe box ( which has sentimental value) . I made new index cards with more helpful dividers such as Airfryer, Instapot, Vita mix, Bread Machine, Smoothies, Nuts, Grains, Breakfast. I threw away any recipe that doesn’t take advantage of modern appliances. The new methods may not be “the best” recipe but is the best for me because I will actually make them. I used cardstock I had for the dividers and 4×6 photo paper which I picked up at Goodwill for .69 cents. A benefit is the photo paper recipe can wipe clean.

    My son has gotten into chess. I subscribed to a free trial of Chess.com to be able to play with him so we have something in common.

    1. Lichess is a great free site that my husband and son use. You could check that one out if you want to play together, too.

    2. I have several 3-ring binders with recipes I’ve tried. If we liked them, I put them in top-loading sheet protectors so they don’t get ruined. It works for internet-printed, or ones torn from magazines. Still, I need to take inspiration from you and do some more organizing! I just tend to keep the favorites on top, but it’s not the most efficient! I actually love to cook, but still tend to use the quick ones, or the favorite ones over and over and over. It’s a matter of getting really comfortable with a recipe so I can make it fast, that makes it work for me most days and I save the creative ones for rare days when I’m less busy. I think you are well on your way to becoming a good cook, with your method.

  24. Hi everyone and happy holidays!
    We had a lovely Christmas with the family, and I got some really nice and frugal presents that will help me save money in the future. Best presents 🙂 ! I got a food mill, that I plan to use for apples, cherry plums, crab apples and rose hips – I hope that as promised, it can help me get rid of stones/kernels/seeds so I can make more jams, juice and sauce from these fruits. Rose hips are especially time comsuming to rinse, but so easy to glean along the beach. I also got a steam juicer, that I hope to use for apples and then the Balls Complete Book of Home Preserving. Now I only need canning tongs and jars, before I can start to experiment with canning. Someone here recommended RoseRed homestead on youtube, and I can see she has a video comparing Ball and Weck jars. Living in Europe, I can’t get Ball jars, only Weck and another type with a glass swingtop, so I will watch this video to see her recommandations.
    My FIL is very talented with woodworking, and he made me a darning mushroom on his wood lathe – very beautiful. You can screw it apart to make it into a darning egg, the handle is hollow and contains darning needles.
    I also got a book on how to make art supplies from things found in nature – I’ve already read a bit in it, and it looks very interesting. Today I started collecting willow branches to make charcoal sticks in the future – it looks quite simple. The book also has chapters on how to make your own paper, paint, ink, prints and crayons. A while ago, I was on a course on how to make ecoprint – it only requires vinegar, iron, steam and paper, and then you can make the most beautiful prints from plants gathered in the garden or in nature. I was taught how to do it on paper, but searching the internet right now, I realized, that you can also make ecoprint on fabric. Hours of fun at hardly any cost!

    I’ve wanted to make leaf mold for years, and now I’ve gotten around to it! I try not to buy soil or soil amendments for the garden, but I’ve had problems making my own seed starting mix, as I have very heavy clay soil. This is where I hope the leaf mold will help. Our trees are big enough to shed enough leaves now, and I had the time to gather them. I just needed a container – we didn’t have any boards for one, and I don’t like using plastic bags, which is the other options mentioned online – the bags break down and small bits of plastic end up all around the garden. I then got the idea to use my sons old plastic sand box, that he hasn’t used for years. It is perfect as it comes with a lid, is spacious, sturdy and easy to move around. I filled it with leaves and a few spoiled apples and put some rocks on top of the lid to secure it. I can’t wait to see the result, even though I know I have to be patient, as it takes a long time for the leaves to break down.
    I also need some advice from all you smart ladies in here! I have two jackets/coats where I need to replace the zipper. One of them is a raincoat, where the zipper is broken – it needs to be watertight, and one half of the zipper has some kind of plastic/rubber lining sewn along with it. Does anyone have experience on how to make a zipper watertight? The other one is a long down jacket, that I need to shorten, as it is completely worn on the lower back part from all my biking! From all the holes I’ve already mended in the jacket, I know that the downs will find their way out of even the smallest hole in no time. So how do I replace the zipper without all the downs ending up on my living room floor? I’ve thought about doing it, when the jacket is wet, as the downs are less ‘lively’ then. Or making a seam just on the other side of the zipper before removing it – only problem: it will most likely make holes in the delicate fabric, and the downs will find their way out when I remove the seam later. Does anyone have experience on mending down items? Any advice is welcome.
    I wish you all a nice week and a happy New Year!

      1. Perhaps this is it: The Organic Artist: Make Your Own Paint, Paper, Pigments, Prints and More by Nick Neddo.

    1. Cam, I think a line of stitching would be your best bet. I’ve never mended a down item, but years ago I made a couple of down vests from kits. The only thing I remember that may help you is to use a very fine needle to avoid poking holes in the fabric. Here is some info that may help: https://topsewingmachines.uk/chart-for-needles/#:~:text=Size%20Chart%20For%20Sewing%20Needles%201%2060%2F8%20-,-%200.7%20diameter%20European%20and%2010%20American%20size. In the US, the smaller the number, the finer the needle. For example, an 11 needle is finer than a 14. You would normally use an 11 to sew woven cotton, so you will likely need a smaller number if it is ripstop fabric. Good luck, and let us know how it goes!

    2. Duct tape inside the jacket? I wouldn’t normally suggest something sounding so ridiculous, but I just saw a woman last week at the market with duct tape closing holes on a down jacket. She was clearly a farmer/rancher. Just an idea if it’s meant to be usable, but not fancy! Of course, you could always use pretty duct tape! 😁

    3. One way to replace a zipper is to sew another one right on top of it, then cut away the old one, leaving some fabric as an anchor. Not as neat and pretty as properly replacing a zipper, at least on the ‘wrong’ side, but it can look perfectly fine on the right/outside facing side. That way you wouldn’t have to worry about down falling out when removing the zipper.

      I’m not sure how to make a zipper waterproof, but Nikwax used to make a liquid that you could apply to seams to make them waterproof. Usually used on tents, but 20 years ago I used it on rain gear and it worked.

      Best of luck! I admire your creativity!

    4. I read in a composting book about a lady who put her leaves into fabric bags (she sewed them herself), and she preferred this to storing them in plastic bags because obviously no plastic, but also because fabric allows some moisture to get in and helps the leaves along in the process of turning into leaf mold. I haven’t tried this yet, but it sounds interesting!

    5. Thank you everyone for all your good advice! I think I will try to sew a new zipper on top of the old one – that’s a really good idea – I don’t know why I haven’t thought about that. The zipper is covered with a narrow piece of fabric in front, so I don’t even think it is going to be visible. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  25. We did the “loop” Christmas day on the way to Daughter 2’s to see Grandson home on leave , only going out of our way by 10 miles to drop off the Christmas cash in dollar store envelopes to all the kids and grandkids. First year we didn’t see the sons (Son 1 is coming up the 30th, we see Son 2 on the 2nd) Weather was harsh… windchill was UP to negative 20. I took appetizers I made from what was in my pantry.

    Son 2 reminded everyone to check automatic payments to make sure info is correct and confirmed. He did not do that last year and ended up with a mess on 2 of them. I had one that would have stopped if I had not confirmed the payment so I am glad he said something.
    Still have a windchill but at least it’s not 50 below anymore
    Blessed be
    Prayers for peace

  26. Merry 3rd Day of Christmas! Freezing nights in Florida but it is a good reset to bug control. Thrifty action this week is to use up ingredients for soups and stews.

  27. Had a lovely Christmas with family! I ended up with two intentions this season: 1) feeding the masses and 2) bestowing laughter as much as a could. With so many feeling low, it was an honor to love on so many who were in need of nourishment and upliftment.
    I stocked up for months to accomplish this task and made sure I got a fair amount of sleep Christmas Eve to stay in a positive mood.
    Aside from roast, I kept food pretty affordable, using a menu that would stretch. I probably fed 50 people in two days.
    I took a walk around my neighborhood and visited with neighbors, several who have become widows/widowers this year. I gave them a printed item from my computer as a gift but the visits were the best part. It was a crisp, sunshiny day so that was an added bonus.
    We’ve had about as much medical chaos in the last few years as I can take. I’ve put my foot down and am no longer accepting waves of unexpected accidents. 😉 In reality, I’ve learned an extreme amount of gratitude and humility around these situations. Hopefully, I’ve filled my quota on gratitude and humility? Ha!
    Our kitchen ceiling leaked, twice, causing quit a bit of damage. I’ve been living with a hole again. Not sure when it will be repaired, as the culprit hasn’t quite been sorted. Praying we don’t have to crane our rooftop system out to get to the bottom of the problem. But I have started to develop some type of humor over this situation because it doesn’t bother me in the least if anyone visiting sees the kitchen drama.
    A friend of ours gave us a small greenhouse. This has been on my wish-list for years. She didn’t use it and we happened upon her the day they were going to throw it out. We will still have to purchase some materials to erect the structure and is higher on the list of to-do’s than the kitchen ceiling, because of food inflation.
    Our medical costs are high enough that we’ve incurred some debt. My goal this year is to pay that down. Feeling very fervent about that.
    Which means, we will be clamping down in many ways to tighten the budget elsewhere. I’m no stranger to this and I’m gearing up for a good attitude about it (quest vs burden sort of thing).
    I also plan to get fresh air, feet on the ground, creative bones moving more and continued laughter to improve the drudgery.
    Lastly, my time is being better spent listening to others and offering my love. This takes zero money and has been the best return on investment this year.
    As ever, thanks for all the golden nuggets each week.

    1. Connie: I love your attitude. Laughter, and gratitude go a LONG way. Wishing you and the rest of this wonderful crowd (thank you Brandy) a healthy, peaceful and laughter filled 2023.

    2. Thank you for this post. So many inspiring ideas.
      I love your Christmas intentions and how you made a point of getting extra sleep so you could accomplish them!

  28. This has been a quiet week for us. My youngest came home from the last day of school with whatever yuck is going around. Someone has been sick since the 21st. We had a very quiet Christmas with 7 out of 8 of us. I actually enjoyed the simplicity of it all. Thank goodness I had the gifts ready and wrapped. This is the first year I was not last minute with that. We did however barely get the tree up on Christmas Eve. One of my children has moved out on his own and did not want to get sick. I ended up dropping his gifts off yesterday when he was not home. My brother made a porch drop off Sunday of food from my family’s Christmas that we are finishing up today. It has been nice not to cook for a few days. We had crazy wind, ice, and enough snow that we experienced blizzard conditions for a couple of days during the bomb weather event. We had heat and power the entire time. Our only trip outside the house was to feed and water the chickens. My daughter said our Brahma chickens looked like snowballs with their under feathers fluffed up to trap warm air! As this year is winding down I am feeling blessed for so much: that my husband has a job and good insurance. He works so hard to provide for our needs. I feel like I need to work even harder this year to make sure all of the things that need to happen do happen. I am grateful for health and medications for times of illness. I have great goals for the garden and orchard I am trying to establish. I hope I can follow through and have a better harvest than this year. I am always gung ho in the spring, but I struggle with the heat and humidity of summer. Grateful that we have a warm home and safe place to be. Thankful for the love of family and friends. Wishing all of you a bright New Year as we move into a year fresh with possibility.

  29. We had a very quiet but lovely Christmas. The big storm hit here Friday and Saturday. Thankfully it was not as severe as other areas and our hydro stayed on. It has been very cold but we are keeping the heat at 66 and we haven’t needed to supplement it so far. The fireplace is set and ready when we do and we are all pros at wearing warm sweaters in the day and thick housecoats in the evening.

    All presents were wrapped using cloth bags that we made years ago. It is no waste and frugal and they look so festive with the variety of fabrics. We all received practical gifts and gift cards and cash. As we live on our son’s small disability benefit, this will go a long way for us. I also have $120 in points for one grocery store and have $100 in gift cards for another store earned with other points. Since we are well stocked, this will get me essential groceries for quite a bit of time. I also have over $50 in Amazon gift codes earned from survey taking that I will put towards groceries there.

    We continue to be blessed through our buy nothing group. I have received quite a bit of food recently including six snack sized cups of diced peaches, a large bag of raisins, a box of oatmeal packets, an unopened bag of frozen pineapple, an unopened package of small jams in assorted flavors, a large dish of fresh cranberry sauce, a bag of flavoured ground coffee and a large, meaty ham bone from a Christmas dinner. It will make a huge pot of split pea soup. We were also gifted a large bag of mens clothing. There were two sweaters and a tshirt that still had tags on as well as a lovely cashmere sweater and other shirts, sweaters and jeans. Our closets are full to bursting with clothes from our buy nothing group.

    We have been using the library for our entertainment along with YouTube videos. I helped my husband cut his hair. We are currently doing a big purge so we will be making trips to the Goodwill to drop off our excess. The house will feel so much better when we are through.

    Hope everyone has a lovely, relaxing week and a happy start to 2023.

  30. Hello, frugal friends! It is finally starting to warm up here in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of southwest Virginia. We were able to take the dog for a walk today, which made her very happy after being stuck inside for most of the past 4 days. Our Christmas was chaotic with the 3 grandkids, the dog, and our adult children. But it was fun. Out heating bill will be unpleasant as there was a lot of going in and out with the grandkids. I finally had to put my foot down as they were refusing to put on coats and it was 26 degrees outside without the windchill. It was just a few hours of the day, but I also used the oven more in the last week than I have in the past 4 months put together. I did crack the oven door open when I was finished baking in order to use residual heat. I doubt it will make a huge difference but it was something, right? We fed the homeless men at our church Christmas Eve. I made 200 pancakes thinking all 15 people would be there. Only 5 needed feeding, as the others were with family which made me feel good. I served 3 types of pancakes (chocolate chip, blueberry, and plain), ham bought on sale for .95/#, orange and banana slices (The oranges were bought through the local FFA fundraiser.) and homemade cookies. I used the blueberries from the freezer I picked last summer. It turned out to be a very welcome dinner for the men. Two said breakfast for dinner was their favorite meal. Due to services we set up in the room they stay in which drew the attention of some of our church staff. We ended up feeding all 4 of our ministers and the security team. We had plenty so it was not a problem plus it was a nice social interaction between our church people and the visiting men. The total cost to prepare for the 15 men this second round was less than $20. I had plenty of leftover pancakes even after leaving a bunch behind so I brought them home and froze the leftovers. The pancakes will come in handy this upcoming weekend when we have our grandsons over. I forgot to mention last week my best frugal find in the grocery store. I needed lettuce for the first dinner we served to our church guests. I hit Kroger at just the right time as they had some spring mix lettuce marked down to $1.42/box plus there was a $1 off/box coupon by the containers. I wasn’t sure if they would accept the coupon on the marked down product but they did! I bought 2 boxes of very fresh spring mix lettuce for $.82 total! The salad went very quickly too so I am glad I was able to provide these men with something fresh. I have decided to do a pantry challenge in January. I am allowing myself $100 for milk and fresh in season produce for the month. I am hoping to have some leftover money for restocking in February. Wish me luck! We continue to do the usual things which add up to make a difference. With the weather improving I am able to hang laundry on the line again this week. Last week during the arctic blast I used my small wooden dryer rack for as much as I could then hung towels over the shower curtain pole and did my usual putting the damp sheets on the bed to dry. This cut my electric dryer use to one load. I went online to the power company website to see what our usage was and it seems that Wednesdays we use the most power. Wednesday is laundry day so that made sense. I will quit dithering on, but know I am praying for those frugal friends who are going through difficult times and giving praise for those who have shared successes. I am wondering about Lorna in Australia what with all I am reading going on down under. Brandy, I love the red roses. Blessings for this upcoming week.

  31. 1. Got my hair cut at local beauty school for 11$. That included shampoo & style.
    2. Hubby sprayed house for bugs instead of calling the exterminator.
    3. I read on the blog about cleaning the dishwasher filter (Brandy I think). I asked hubby to clean ours. The filter was gummed up w/ food debris. etc. I hope the cleaning will help to make it run more efficiently & last longer.
    4. I trash picked 3 faucet covers. Hubby put them on our outside faucets before the cold spell.
    5. I found a small dog sweater which I gave to my sister for her little dog to keep it warm.
    6. I found a large quantity of canned goods outside a dumpster dated for 2024. Most were taken to a local food bank.
    7. I also found a twin size electric blanket. It worked when I tested it. I washed it to sanitize it. Hubby is using it like a heated throw in his recliner. The cat likes it too.
    8. Got chicken quarters for 0.47 cents a lb. We will grill them outside (when it warms up).
    9. Hubby blocked the turbines on the roof with foam from a piece of an old eggcrate mattress. He put the foam in using the attic. Hopefully that will keep some of warm air from escaping.
    10. I made more french toast from milk that was slightly off & stale bread. I added vanilla & 2 eggs. It came out tasty.

    1. It makes a huge difference, cleaning the dishwasher filter. My mother does hers once a month. I should do mine more often as I run the dishwasher more often.

  32. We shared a Christmas eve brunch with my sister, brother and their spouses. I had most of the ingredients on hand to bring sticky bun, a family favorite.

    I helped deliver small gifts and cash to families in my neighborhood. The gathering of money was done for me. I pulled gift bags, ribbon, and tissue out of my stash to put things in.

    I made a cute hat with a fox face on it and matching mittens for a grandson and watched holiday movies while working on them.

    We saw most of our family and shared simple gifts. My husband and I really don’t give gifts to each other. He wanted a pumpkin pie, which I made using what was in my pantry, and he gave me a box of my favorite chocolates from a local chocolatier. I can make that box last for two months!

    We gave apple butter to our neighbors as gifts. I made it back in October when I got a glut of apples from my sister.

    I am now working on another shawl and scarf from remnant yarn. I bought four skeins of different colors of the same brand from a thrift store earlier this year for $4 each. They retail for $13.50 each. A friend who made a scarf with the same yarn but different colors gave me her remnants. I think I have enough for both a shawl and scarf and designed the color usage yesterday and began the project.

    We received pistachios from two of my husband’s clients. I really enjoy them and don’t each them as quickly when I need to shell them first! We have lots of candy and treats to keep us happy for another month.

    We are staying warm and enjoying seeing the Christmas lights in our city.

    1. How did you make the hat and mittens? Were they knit? Sewn from fleece? They sound so cute!

  33. It has been a chaotic last 2 months here.
    My husband is still looking for work that will accommodate his disability. It has been 10 weeks since his layoff. Still waiting to be approved for unemployment but a small severance came today. He had cobra coverage until May.
    I did not get the job I interviewed for that would have made up for his salary. Trying to trust God that He will take care of us, but boy it has been hard.
    State Farm keeps going back and forth on whether they will total our car after the hit and run last month. They’ve removed our vehicle from insurance after telling us that the car could be repaired. I’m so tired and we cannot afford a car payment with my husband not working.
    Husband does qualify for 6 hours a semester in community college through a state program. He is ready to go for spring, but that took weeks to make it happen.
    We had unexpected cancer scare with my daughter. Expecting medical bills from the tumor removal surgery to show up soon. We will have to do rolling payments.
    We are blessed we did not lose power or have water damage from the winter storm.
    Money saving. Like many people, we got the 99c pineapples that were popular. Received some meals and pantry items and paid forward when we could. Husband bought bulk 3 cup containers on Amazon for broth freezing (cheaper than other methods).
    Picked up some candies on clearance for my baker friend, who looks for these each year for a charity gingerbread house giveaway. The candies more than last through the year.
    Menu planned with sister for holiday meals and brought pantry items where we could to eliminate waste. Held back from cooking things we didn’t really need. Lots of leftovers for Christmas night and day after meals.
    Bought air filters on bulk online.
    Bought half off eucalyptus bubble bath as I know it works when I’m congested.
    Refilled all my end of year prescriptions.
    Trying winter sowing of seeds for the first time. Checked my seed inventory first and ordered 3 packs on a free shipping site on a night when proceeds helped a non profit. Using leftover potting soil and empty water jugs from my cpap. Minimal time investment and maybe I’ll get ahead this year?
    Gave consumables for Christmas gifts when I could, ideally supporting small businesses locally if it wasn’t something I could make.
    Ordered more covid tests through insurance since kids will be going back to school soon.
    Will be combing through your posts for new ideas.
    Wishing you all a blessed new year.

    1. Robbie I hope employers soon will be back to hiring- maybe just a lag with holidays, hope you and your husband both find jobs in 2023
      Best wishes for your family

  34. My husband and I went to Aldi the weekend before Christmas to do our first stock up shopping in quite a while. I spent more than usual, got less than usual and didn’t splurge or stock up. We were already in the town where Aldi is located so there was no separate expense for travelling there. The next day, we stopped at Tractor Supply to look for our grandson’s Santa present. We knew what we wanted and had a hard time locating it but we did very well and spent reasonably for him, just $25 total. We closed on the house we had up for sale. We haven’t spent a penny thus far, save the tithes and giving we wanted to do. We are proceeding cautiously, unwilling to make hasty decisions. We had our hot water heater and refrigerator both repaired in the past week. Neither was expensive but the totals do accumulate, don’t they? I baked cookies on Thursday for Christmas. I use an Amish sugar cookie recipe and that is divided into two portions and makes two separate cookies. This year, I combined sprinkles and colored sugars which made the most darling sugar cookies ever. I’ll definitely do that again in the future. I gifted the propane truck driver with cookies and also my daughter in law on the same day. On Friday the temperatures plummeted and we dressed far more warmly than usual. We used our propane heater to help offset the freezing temperatures effect on our heat pump. I heated water on the stove to add humidity to the air but also set out glasses of water on the mantel and kitchen counters. I went into the dollar store and bought a Christmas gift for a family member as well as Christmas candy for the household here. I picked up a pair of Paw Patrol Mittens for the grandson’s Christmas but refused to pick up anything further. I went to the post office to get money orders to send out for our distant children’s gifts and while there grabbed a roll of Bubble wrap which was less expensive there than at the dollar store. We wrapped outdoor faucets, turned on the pumphouse light, filled the bird feeders, wrapped the cat carrier with plastic to make a warmer house for the guest cat. I made a big pot of soup from leftover roast beef, a handful of vegetables and the broth from cooking the pot roast. It was a lovely pot of soup, my first time using Herbes De Provence which I’d picked up at HomeGoods for quite a low price.

    1. Congratulations on getting your water heater and refrigerator repaired. With my luck, they would have been irreparable, or not worth the expense. (They don’t make ’em like they used to!). And both at once–wow! Also, Terri, do you have a blog, and how do we find it?

  35. I noticed that Lorna has commented on the Bluebirds site – they have been away – so perhaps we will hear from her soon.

  36. Slightly hectic over the past week with Christmas and the arctic blast here, so not much to report in the way of frugality. The wind came in here in central VA on Friday morning and by 10 am our power was out. Thankfully, my mom next door has a whole house generator, so me, husband, and dog packed up and spent the night at her house. When I came back to my house at 7 am the next morning, the electricity had been back on for 2 hours and it was 46 degrees in the downstairs of my house. So, needless to say, I ran ALL of the appliances all day trying to help the heat pump out in getting the temperature back up in the house. The power went out again on Christmas Day for about an hour, but at least that was short-lived and we had already eaten breakfast and were opening gifts during that time.

    In some frugal news, my stepdad came by and caulked our front door and a very drafty window for us, which was great. Husband is traveling for work this week so I am working on eating down all leftovers while all his expenses are paid by work. I took some time to look over our final expenses for this year in our budget and identify some areas we could do better in. Restaurants, for sure. I think we can get groceries down just through the sheer fact of my husband traveling so much now, and I can eat cheaply alone.

    Happy new year to everyone!

  37. Thank you for sharing your beauty photos every week. I always enjoy them.

    Our Christmas was small but noisy with a toddler around. But so much fun to enjoy my granddaughter’s happiness and love. She was so fun. It was fun to have my children home with good food, good conversation and good times. I did buy a ham but a very small one and some fresh produce. Everything else was from my freezer for our meals. I shared the leftovers with my kids for them to take home.

    My husband came home sick but we had the meds and liquids needed at home for him.

    I walked around a few neighbor gifts of bags of apples, oranges and a few Hershey kisses in each one. Frugal and some exercise. Fun to hug everyone hello and wish them a merry Christmas.

    I stayed home except for going to the library which is one minute from my house. I read a Jacqueline Winspear novel and also the new book from Paige Shelton that is set in Alaska. I exercised at home. I spent many moments on my deck looking up at the night sky and the stars. Frugal and peaceful. The sunsets have been beautiful. We had a nice holiday but I’m completely exhausted.

    Have a wonderful week.

  38. I had 15 here for pre-Christmas as we celebrated on Thursday. We left in the afternoon on Christmas day and went to my daughter’s in Florida to be there when she got off work. Then had a celebration with husband’s side of family at his cousin’s home in Orange Beach, AL. There were 36 there, so we saw family we don’t often see.
    * Husband smoked a turkey, ham, and pork loin. I sliced some for sandwiches, then put up bags of the meat and carcass and ham bone.
    * I have two upright and two refrigerator freezers packed. I will start with the inside freezer and make as many meals as I can, then through the outside freezers. I know I have 3 ham bones and 4 turkey carcasses. I plan to make bone broth to can and get them out. I am also going to can venison, some more vegetable soup, and other things after the first of the year. My husband is going hunting today. So I need to make room for another buck.
    * My DIL took a lot of canned soups, beef stew, and green beans home. I was happy she wanted it. She said she loved one that had vegetables and beef but didn’t know if it was the beef stew or vegetable hamburger soup. I gave her multiples of each of those, then she took one of others to try.
    *I tried to bless our 5 adult kids this year, feeling this coming year may be more homemade and useful. I gave items like bacon from an Alabama company and a quarter side of beef to divide among them. We have the kids make Amazon lists and I chose items off their lists that are useful like a space heater, electric blanket, sweaters. We got my Mother in law an alarm system, and my husband installed it. We may not have as much money to use this coming year, so I may have to give home canned foods and crafted items. We will also have a wedding this year.
    * Like everyone we had the storm come through. We got to 3⁰ with a -16⁰ wind chill. We never were a part of the roving blackouts they did all around us, and then many lost power not planned. Our heat strips came on, and we used the gas fireplace when we were sitting, so I am sure our bill will be high. I have velvet curtains cut that are lined so that us on my list to get done so I can cover the windows in family room. I will make panels for all the windows but it will take awhile. We tacked up a quilt on the window by my husband’s recliner. That helped a lot. I’ve rolled blankets to put at the doors.
    * My daughter has 3 chickens and gave me 2 dozen eggs. I had bought five 18- count cartons from Kroger for $1.99 last time I bought eggs. I froze 2.5 cartons and have been eating on the others for a couple of months and finally used all cartons this past week when all the kids were home. Oh, one way I used a bunch was to make breakfast burritos to freeze with tortillas, sausage, scrambled eggs, and cheese. My husband goes into the office 2 days a week, so he can grab these for a quick meal. I’m dreading having to buy high priced eggs.
    * I am making a list of items I’d like and garage sale season will be here in a few months. Material, thread, oil lamp, candles, books, magazines, clothing, storage containers, canning jars.
    * My husband is working from home 3 days a week. This is saving a lot of gas, as it is about 20 miles, but takes around 30 minutes each way.

  39. We spent Christmas with an artic blast and now our town has no water due to leaks. The crews are working on the problem, but today is Day 4. But on a positive note we have heat, bottled water and food to eat so I would say we are very blessed. Christmas was low keyed but very good because of time spent with family and friends. Happy New Year everyone.

  40. Hope everyone who celebrates had a lovely holiday. We had a nice time. We had a bunch of the family here, then zoomed two other locations. It isn’t perfect because we can’t hear or see perfectly, but at least we are “together.” Papa read Luke 2 and we attempted singing, then opened gifts. I was impressed by how thoughtful all the gifts were. Our kids and in-laws draw names and it brought me so much joy seeing how mindful and kind their gifts were to each other. * It hasn’t been a particularly frugal week, but we have made a lot of good meals at home, played a lot of games and spent time together. That is priceless. * I made some candy by melting chocolate in the crockpot then adding pretzels and nuts. * I received a gift card for Joann’s from my hubby. I saw there was a big yarn sale this week, so I did an online order for curbside pickup and combining sales and 20% off everything coupon, I got 11 skeins of yarn and only went over the gift card by 56 cents! I was pleased and this will keep me busy ’til my birthday in March. I already told my hubby I’d love another gift card then. lol. * My husband bought four rolls of wrapping paper for next year on clearance for 82 cents a roll. I need to send him back to look for a bag of bows. We are almost completely out, after reusing for years and years and years. A new bag will be a nice refresh. * My son had an emergency appendectomy last week. He went to urgent care in pain, and they told them they’d keep him and diagnose him there instead of sending him over to the ER, where the wait would be hours and hours, and cost so much more. Everything got diagnosed then he and my husband went to the hospital with papers essentially asking for an appendectomy. He was admitted, operated on and released within four hours!! Whew! Everything went well and we are grateful it happened while he was on break from school. Also grateful for good insurance and that he lives here so we could easily look after him. * I’ve been reading library books, knitting and crocheting for fun, and enjoying spending time with visiting family. *I absolutely adored the Call the Midwife Christmas special, watching it for free on the PBS app. *I wish everyone a very Happy New Year!

  41. We had a lovely Christmas. We were able to spend time with my grandparents on Christmas eve. My grandfather showed me a ring that he wants me to inherit. Later I told him that our final debt payment will be made on January 3rd (house was paid off last year. This is the last of our debt from our business that failed in 2016. The original payoff date was May 2023 so we’re coming in a little early.) Anyway, my grandfather hugged me and told how proud he is of us. That hug and those words were perhaps the best part of Christmas and much more special to me than some ring I’m supposed to inherit someday. On Christmas morning, all of my husband’s and my living parents were in church with us. I’ll treasure that time forever. Gifts were simple and useful. I was given a Joann gift card that I’m saving for some project I know will strike my fancy this year. Hubby and I were given $50 from an aunt. We tucked it away for the next emergency.

    My husband is laid off for the winter. This means our income gets cut by half. Last year we had stimulus money and we didn’t really feel the cut. This year it’s going to feel harder, I think. Any grocery spending will have to come from our small savings. I went over last year’s spending and identified areas of weakness. I made plans and set goals. I enjoy the process and I’m praying we are disciplined and act with wisdom and prudence with our finances in the coming year.

    My husband ordered a 40 lb box of wings for $1.25/lb and a 10 lb roll of lean ground beef for $34.

    Question for your readers… I received a beautiful red enameled dutch oven (7.5 qt) for Christmas. What are some of your favorite things to cook in a dutch oven. I know I can use it for bread and soup and roasts. Anything else?

    1. You can use your Dutch oven for just about anything, braising meat; soups, stews, chili, and sauces; frying chicken; but my favorite is baking sourdough bread. Just make sure the knob can take high heat. They sell metal ones if yours doesn’t.

  42. Brandy, this are such beautiful seasonal photos!
    Last week my husband got sick just after I had finished my antibiotics, but he was well enough to go to the Christmas Eve service. I got sick Christmas night again and am fever free as of today! Being sick for 5 weeks has me going stir crazy but knew I needed to not be around people , so I cleaned the pantry. This was a gift as I having been thinking about my hopes for the new year, and addressing health was on my list. I have been doing detox footpaths while sick and wanted to do a real detox once I was better. I found detox teas to last me two months! I am making more ACV to add to my lemon detox I drink daily. I am hoping to do more detox footpaths or baths regularly. I found plain gelatin which should last a while and several expired bottles of juice and started making juice gelatin which helps with my cravings! I painted some boards that needed a fresh coat and threw out a few things that a mouse got into. I sealed up some things that I wanted to make sure were mouse safe! So the whole mornings work blessed me with things for my health desires list and ridded me of yucky stuff and things are back in order!
    Next, I cleaned the coat and shoe closet and found two coats to donate!
    As I think about the new year and my hopes, I say it that way as I have learned to hold things looser after the last three years. I plan to spend some time these next few days praying and thinking about my spiritual life, health,marriage, family, finance and personal enrichment.
    Brandy and friends, I hope we love better and grow in wisdom in how to navigate this quickly changing world! Best wishes and prayers for the New Year!

  43. I just have time for a quick question. I am sorting through sewing patterns and have quite a few I’d like to sell. Does anyone know which organization would work the best for selling those? I have never done anything like that before and don’t really know where to start.
    Thank you ahead of time.
    Elizabeth H.

    1. I have bought patterns on eBay. I’m sure there are other possibilities, but I just Googled the brand and number and they came up on eBay. This might be a good way to find other sources, as well as figure pricing.

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